Court Allows ICBC Action Commenced In B.C. To Be Transferred To Alberta

In O’Connor v. Chapman, the Plaintiff was a resident of Alberta who was injured in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia. Counsel for the Plaintiff commenced formal legal proceedings in British Columbia. ICBC’S lawyer filed a Statement of Defence, wherein liability was admitted. Counsel for the Plaintiff then brought an application to have the matter transferred to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta, pursuant to the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act. Counsel for the Plaintiff argued that the Plaintiff had received the vast majority of her treatments in Alberta, that all of the expert and lay witnesses lived in Calgary, and that even ICBC’S defence expert, who personally examined the Plaintiff, lived in Calgary as well. The Plaintiff had also earlier been involved in another motor vehicle accident in Alberta, which was at the time subject to litigation proceedings in Calgary. This would undoubtedly raise issues of causation and contribution with respect to the two motor vehicle accidents. The Court, after considering the following factors under the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act, ruled in favor of the Plaintiff : the comparative convenience and expense for the parties to the proceeding and for their witnesses, in litigating in the court or in any alternative forum ; the law to be applied to issues in the proceeding ; the desirability of avoiding multiplicity of legal proceedings ; the desirability of avoiding conflicting decisions in different courts ; the enforcement of an eventual judgment ; and, the fair and efficient working of the Canadian legal system as a whole.

 

[5]               The plaintiff obviously concedes, by way of having filed this action in this province, that the courts of British Columbia have jurisdiction to try this action.  However, the plaintiff says, and the defendant effectively concedes, that the more appropriate forum or the more convenient forum for trying this action is Alberta, given that the defendant has now admitted liability, so that every witness, at least identified to this point in time, required for the trial lives in Alberta; given that the plaintiff resides in Alberta; and given that the plaintiff has an ongoing action for related personal injuries in Alberta, which will raise issues of contribution and causation.

 

[9]               Neither counsel have been able to find a case in which a plaintiff has sought to transfer proceedings from the jurisdiction which the plaintiff initially selected.  Neither have provided me with a case dealing with the interpretation of the CJPTA in a situation where the plaintiff has commenced the application.

 

[12]           In this case, the factors and circumstances overwhelmingly weigh in favour of the court in Alberta being the most appropriate forum for the trial of this action, which is solely a matter of assessing the damages and losses, if any, suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant‘s admitted negligence.

[13]           Under all of the circumstances in this case, I have concluded that the facts are such that I am not bound to follow O’Brien and the cases following O’Brien, and I conclude that a fair, large and liberal construction and interpretation of the CJPTA leads to the conclusion that the plaintiff is not barred from making an application for transfer.

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